Maybe, just maybe, Siri is on its way to being good.
Three months after hiring him from Google, Apple is listing new AI Chief John Giannandrea as part of company leadership its corporate website. Giannandrea will report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and lead the company's efforts in machine learning and AI strategy. In particular, he will work on Core ML, a tool that allows developers to integrate machine learning into their apps, as well as Apple's voice assistant.
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Previously, Giananndrea spent eight years at Google. As Senior Vice President of Engineering, he was in charge of Google's Search and Artificial Intelligence team, and led efforts to integrate artificial intelligence into Google's search engine.
Before Google, he co-founded Metaweb Technologies, a data management company, and Tellme Networks, which provided something similar to an Alexa Flash Briefing over the phone, which are now properties of Google and Microsoft respectively. He was also a senior engineer at Apple-spinoff General Magic and chief technologist at Netscape.
Apple would certainly be pleased if Giannandrea could raise Siri's IQ and functionality. Siri faces stiff competition from Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. The two consistently outperform Siri in our testing, and have only widened their lead in the past year. And Apple's Siri-powered HomePod has failed to win over shoppers since its release in February, in part because of Siri's limitations.
Giannandrea's position at Google, meanwhile, is being taken over by Vice President of Search Engineering Ben Gomes, while Google Brain co-founder Jeff Dean will spearhead its AI efforts. The division of the duties indicates the company's increased emphasis on AI research, which lacked a dedicated team before.